January 16, 2018
Teachers of the Month and Employee of the Month for January were honored at the Wakulla County School Board Meeting on January 16, 2018.
Teachers Sue Hutchins and Christina Nall and employee Gene Pascarella were selected by their peers to be recognized for their positive impact on Wakulla County students, staff, and community.
Sue Hutchins is in her 33rd year in Wakulla public schools, currently working at Wakulla High School. Serving as a middle school teacher at both Riversprings and Wakulla Middle, a counselor at WMS, then moving to WHS as a school counselor, she now works as a WHS Associate Dean of Student Services.
Hutchins was raised in Georgia and earned her bachelor’s degree in Middle Grades Education from West Georgia College where she then taught middle school in Georgia for 5 years. She later went on to earn a master’s degree in Science Education from FSU.
Once she moved to Wakulla County in 1989, Hutchins quickly made an impression as a stellar middle school educator who especially made math and science come alive for her students.
Hutchins notes about her current position as WHS Associate Dean of Student Services, “What I love about my job is that it is a calling, which enables me to serve our War Eagle family and District in very purposeful and fulfilling ways. It is an honor to be entrusted with such a unique position, nourishing those with emotional needs and nurturing healthy relationships, joy, love, and positive growth.”
Her job in WHS Student Services links her to almost every aspect of high school life: academics, discipline, attendance, administration, and community service providers like Refuge House, the Wakulla County Health Department, and the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office.
Quick to give credit to others, she says that it is “a blessing not to be serving in isolation, but rather to have the support of a most talented and dedicated team of professionals at the school, district and community levels.”
A few of the additional positions she holds or has held include Mentor with TCC’s Take Stock in Children program; WHS Diversity Committee; AVID Scholars Council; Wakulla County Domestic Violence Task Force; and the WHS Angel Fund, where she assists with the identification of homeless students and/or those in financial crisis. Many donations come from the WHS faculty and staff.
With the outpouring of material and financial support Hutchins witnessed before the holidays, seeing “the tears of an overwhelmingly grateful mother, I realized that in Wakulla County, we have a true sense of community. I will never be able to take for granted that we have angels, among angels, among us!”
Adds WHS Principal Mike Barwick, “Mrs. Hutchins plays such a critical role in the lives of our students. She creates special relationships that allow her to see the true needs of our students. And she’ll stop at nothing to help meet those needs. Our staff and students are truly blessed to have her.”
Christina Nall is in her 14th year at Shadeville Elementary School. As a 4th Grade teacher, she has taught students in ESE (Exceptional Student Education) inclusion classes, in general education, and in gifted inclusion classes.
After growing up in St. Petersburg, FL, she earned her bachelor’s degree from FSU in Elementary Education. A successful internship at Shadeville Elementary in teacher Rhonda Traweek’s classroom led to her hiring for the following school year.
Nall says that she has high expectations for her students because she has the evidence to show that they benefit from meeting and exceeding her individualized goals for them. “They often struggle at first, but when they reach a goal that was challenging to them, they gain a sense of pride and fulfillment. Seeing them reach their full potential and feel proud is the best!”
Carrying over that same commitment with future teachers, Nall says she has had the opportunity to supervise several interns. “I enjoy guiding them through the process of applying what they have learned in college to real-life teaching experiences and helping them to become successful educators.”
She continues to stay in touch with her former interns and appreciates being a mentor to them by hearing about their experiences as new teachers. “The most rewarding part is how much I learn from them in return,” Nall notes.
In addition, Nall has served as the school-level Technology Chair for 7 years, and as the Spelling Bee School-level Co-chair for 10 years.
Adds SES Principal Nicholas Weaver, “Mrs. Nall is an integral part of the Shadeville family. As one of the leaders in the school, she has many responsibilities that help with our commitment to success for all students. Her energy, enthusiasm and attention to detail shine through in the classroom and in everything she does for our school.”
Gene Pascarella was selected by his peers as January Employee of the Month from the Facilities and Maintenance Department. Although only in his third year of working with the school system, he quickly made a favorable impression on his co-workers.
“He has a positive attitude and always takes pride in what he does,” says supervisor Randy Bristol, Executive Director of Facilities and Maintenance. “He has a great work ethic and is very dependable. His attendance is perfect, and he’s always on board for any task that comes up.”
Pascarella notes, “I have a lot of prior experience with two years active duty in the U.S. Army stationed in Korea, then the next 38 years working for Talquin Electric. In any work situation, I just approach it with the idea that if you are going to the job, do it to the best of your ability.”
Pascarella spent a good part of his Wakulla training as a roving custodian, where he says he’s worked “at every school in the district except Crawfordville Elementary. People like WHS foreman Kenny Harvey and Shadeville custodians, sisters Carol Hairston and Wanda White, taught me a lot about what it takes to keep school facilities shiny as a new penny.”
And principals say that a well-maintained school can add to a positive atmosphere for learning and students taking pride in their school.
Pascarella now works at the District Office where he says he has learned much from foreman Terry Webster and supervisor Randy Bristol about not only maintaining the District facilities, but also ways in which the District operations staff has to be ready to give aid to any school or schools in a critical facility situation.
His experiences at Talquin Electric prepared him to deal with many different types of situations. Pascarella notes, “In addition to installing meters in over 75 per cent of the Talquin homes in Wakulla for 38 years, I also worked outages from some fierce storms, including hurricanes, even seeing trees coming down behind me as I looked in my rearview mirror.”
He adds, “I accept this award really for all of the Wakulla County School System Facilities and Maintenance folks. There are a lot of people who are more deserving than I am. The unsung heroes that keep the schools well-maintained behind the scenes are to all be applauded.”